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Game 23 – Warrior Wishes Come True In Denver!

We are kicking off week 7 of our 2019 Mission in Denver!

In case you haven’t been following… so far this season we have been honored to make Warrior Wishes come true at 22 NFL games! My dad is racking up some serious miles…

Xander, my dad & I headed towards the airport after my dad watched the grandkids Wednesday afternoon. Literally as soon as we got in the car to go we received a flight delay notification.  So we stopped for dinner and played some Mario Kart at Walmart before dropping him off. His flight, originally scheduled to depart at 8:54pm, didn’t take off until after 1 am!

Which means he didn’t arrive in Denver until around 3am. Needless to say, he skipped getting a hotel and got a quick power nap in at the airport before making his way downtown Denver to make some Warrior Wishes come true!

Denver is an awesome city. I’ll never forget our first mission there, my dad and I literally tried to cram in as much as we could with limited time. We made it to Estes Park, the doorstep of Rocky Mountain National Park(didn’t want to tease ourselves because we didn’t have time to explore), Red Rocks Amphitheatre, the Coors Brewery, Coors Field and the Broncos game all in less than 24 hours! It was awesome!

Throughout the years we have made some unforgettable memories making Warrior Wishes come true in the “Mile High” City! Here are some of our favorites.

Today we had the opportunity to make some new memories with Army veteran Anthony “AJ” Martinez and Marines Vince Vangi and Terry Lyons at the Broncos game.

AJ Martinez was stationed in Schweinfurt, Germany with the 1-91 Cav, and the 173rd Airborne Brigade. He severely injured his ankle on a predeployment training mission. Today, he and his family live in Aurora, Colorado and he is heavily involved in the Wounded Warrior Project.

Vince Vangi enlisted in the Unities States Marine Corps reserve in December of 1986 at the age of 20. He graduated from boot camp as a Private 1st Class and worked his way up to the rank of Sergeant before his discharge in 1994.

Marine Sgt Terry Lyons comes from a family with a long history of military service. His family has served in all branches of the military excluding the coast guard. Terry enlisted into the United States Marine Corps on December 30th 1963. He deployed to Okinawa Japan at the beginning of 1965 and eventually was sent to Vietnam.

Terry received four Purple Hearts during his time in Vietnam! Two the first year. The first, was a bullet wound to the head. The second was from a grenade that wounded his lower body. Then in 1966 he and his squad received mortar rounds where he took injuries to his arms and face.

The Marine Corps eventually moved him off of the front lines and he was given orders to the Military Police. While on patrol on Highway 1 a marine air base was attacked and a machine gunner on the perimeter tower was severely wounded so Lance Corporal Lyons started climbing the tower to get him to medical help. As he was climbing he was shot in the leg so received his 4th Purple Heart!

He returned from Vietnam in July of 1966 where he was station at Camp Lejune as the Section Chief for the chaplains office until his discharge from the Marine Corps on December 7, 1967 as a Sergeant of Marines.

Terry’s grandson, Army Pfc Zachary Salmon, made the Ultimate Sacrifice in January 12th 2011 for our country while serving in Afghanistan.

We were honored to host Zach’s mom at a Bengals game a few years back and we are pretty positive Zach was with us too. Look at the orb surrounding his family in this picture!

My dad met up with the warriors for dinner at the Denver Chophouse. Mark, the manager of the Chophouse, also served in the Marines. They have been helping us make wishes come true for the past few years and we appreciate their support!

After getting to know one another over a delicious meal, they made their way to the Denver fire department to catch their ride to the stadium! The Denver Fire Department escorted them to the stadium in a fire truck!

Upon arrival at Empower field, home of the Broncos, the group made their way to tailgate with Rescue Rob and his crew.  Rescue Rob, complete with his own custom Broncos fire truck and his crew have been making Warrior wishes come true at Broncos games since 2012!

Eventually they made their way into the stadium to watch the Broncos face off against their rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Broncos marched down the field on their first drive of the game to take an early lead. But unfortunately didn’t score again the rest of the game… the Broncos lay the game 30-6.  Despite the loss, the guys enjoyed their experience.  In AJ’s words “It was absolutely the coolest experience I have ever been a part of!”

Operation Warrior wishes would like to thank AJ, Vince & Terry for their service and sacrifices and we will never forget Army Pfc Zachary Salmon!

My dad will be back home tomorrow afternoon before catching an overnight bus to Nashville to make wishes come true at Sunday’s Titans game! Stay tuned…

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Game 12 – Making Mile High Memories At The Broncos Game!

We kicked off week 4 of the NFL season in Green Bay this Thursday & the warriors even got to meet Aaron Rodgers after the game!

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On Friday, we hosted our first annual “Turkeys for Troops” bowling fundraiser & raised more than $4,000 for our mission! Thanks to Mark & everyone who came out to make the event a big success.

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Saturday morning my dad flew out to Denver & immediately made his way to Coors field to make Wishes come true at the Rockies game!

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He spent the night at the Denver airport last night & is back in action today making Warrior Wishes come true at our 12th game of our 2017 “All32in17” mission!

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Needless to say, my dad was a little tired from a wild week of wishes coming true, but nothing slows him down.  

As you can probably imagine, we receive a lot of nominations throughout the year.  We do our best to fulfill as many wishes as we can.  Sometimes it takes us a while to fulfill the wishes due to the number of requests we get.  For example, we received a nomination from Army E-4 Curtis Dimas’ wife a couple of years ago.  She told us about her husbands service, his sacrifices & told us how big of a Denver Broncos fan he is.  Today, we are honored to be fulfilling this wish.  

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Denver is one of our favorite city’s & we have made some magical memories in the “Mile High” city!

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First thing Sunday morning, my dad made his way downtown to Elway’s Restaurant to meet up with Curtis & his wife for brunch.  He arrived a little early & set up the table before they arrived.  

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Elway’s restaurant is a must do when visiting Denver.  Especially when you’re in town for a Broncos game.  The upscale restaurant is owned by Broncos Hall of Fame QB, John Elway.  It’s Located in the heart the Mile High City & is the ideal setting for any occasion. Their menu boasts USDA Prime, hand-cut steaks, Colorado Lamb, raw bar selections with fin fish, crustaceans and much more.  

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Elway’s restaurant has been helping us make Warrior Wishes come true & providing unbelievable dining experiences to the warriors in Denver since 2013.  We cannot thank them enough for their continued support!

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Over lunch, my dad got to know a little about Army E-4 Curtis Dimas.  Curtis served 8 years in military.  He enlisted in 2002 & deployed to Iraq from February 2003- August 2004. He got injured in an IED explosion towards the end of deployment.  He now suffers with a back injury and PTSD and is medically retired.  As I mentioned before, Curtis is a big Broncos fan & Today’s game will be both his & his wife’s first NFL game ever!  

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After a delicious meal, everyone made their way to Sports Authority Field, Home of the Denver Broncos.  Before heading inside, they stopped by Rescue Rob’s ultimate tailgate. Rob is a firefighter in Colorado who bought an old fire truck and turned ii into a Broncos Orange & Blue Fire Truck.  Rescue Rob is a member of Ultimate Fan association & has been hosting warriors at his tailgate for the past few years. 

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As game time approached, my dad escorted Curtis & his wife inside the stadium to watch the Broncos kick things off against their AFC west Rivals, the Raiders.

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The Broncos jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead. It looked as if it was going to be a high scoring blow out, but both offenses stalled & the game became a defensive battle.  In the end, the Broncos came out on to & won the game by the score of 16-10.

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Curtis was beyond excited to see his Broncos get the win.  After the game Rescue Rob gave Curtis & His wife a ride back to their car which was still parked downtown at Elway’s restaurant.  

Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank Elway’s Restaurant for their continued support, as well as the Ritz Carlton hotel for providing Valet parking.  We also want to thank New Era Cap for the new Broncos caps & Rescue Rob for the ride back on the Fire Truck.

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TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!

Most importantly, we want to thank Curtis for his service and sacrifices to our country. 

My dad plans on spending the night at the Denver airport again & will be flying to Kansas City first thing in the morning to make Wishes come true at tomorrow night’s Chiefs game!  Stay tuned for more details!

It was an honor to host this brave warriors and make his Warrior Wish come true. If you know a deserving warrior who would love to attend a game on our “All32in17” mission please nominate them today!

2017 All32in17 Mission Schedule (2)

Make sure to follow our mission live on Facebook Twitter & Instagram @WarriorWishes.

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 THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

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Game 20 – Warrior Wishes Come True In Denver!

If you remember, we kicked off our 2016 mission to honor Military Warriors at all 32 NFL stadiums in one season back in September when we hosted heroes opening night in Denver.  

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Since then, we have made Warrior Wishes come true at 19 NFL games in only 7 weeks!!!  

2016 ALL32IN17 Schedule

We have made some unforgettable memories hosting heroes in Denver at Mile High Stadium!

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My dad and I have never big fans of the quick trips in and out of cities, because it really doesn’t give us enough time to get to know the warriors. But unfortunately this 2nd trip to Denver is one of those.  My dad’s flight to Denver didn’t land til after 2:00 PM on Monday afternoon.  From there he had a 40 minute train ride to get downtown to Elway’s where he met up with Army SGT Lucas Oppelt.  

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SGT Oppelt & his 10 year old son had just started eating when my dad arrived. He quickly learned how big of Broncos fans they were as they were both wearing Peyton Manning jerseys.  SGT Oppelt’s sons name was Peyton!  They enjoyed getting to know each other over a delicious meal at Elway’s restaurant, which is the one and only place in Denver to go to before or after a Broncos game!  

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After dinner, Once they found Lucas’ truck, they made their way to “Mile High” stadium.  Upon arrival, my dad immediately went to the box office to swap out our tickets for accessible seating. The tickets we bought were not bad, 4th row in the upper deck.  Because there is limited ADA seating, they gave SGT Oppelt the only seats they had available which were in the FRONT ROW!!!

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Needless to say, Lucas and his son had the experience of a lifetime watching their Broncos from the Front Row behind the Texans bench!  My dad went down there and sat with them for a few minutes a couple of times and said that they were clearly some of the biggest Broncos fans he had seen, cheering & yelling for Home Town team.  

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The Broncos dominated the entire game & gave the father & son plenty to cheer about as they held Houston, and former Bronco QB Brock Osweiler to Field Goals while Denver scored touchdowns . The Texans were really never in it and Denver rolled to a 27-9 victory. 

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Ethan and The entire Customer Service Dept for the Broncos has been amazing all 4 years of our Warrior Wishes mission.They always go the “extra mile ” for the Warriors.  Just like they did for Sgt Gabe Martinez earlier this year, Sam from customer service provided Lucas a Free jersey coupon from Team Store.

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My dad met back up with SGT Oppelt & his son After the game.  They hung around until the field cleared, watching players and cheerleaders head to the locker room.  My dad eventually walked Lucas & Peyton to their car, thanked Lucas for his service one last time, and then headed for the train to the airport for “a good nights sleep” before flying back to Chicago in morning.  

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SEE ALL THE PHOTOS FROM THIS EXPERIENCE HERE!

Operation warrior wishes would like to thank Elways Restaurant for the Pre Game Meal , New Era for the Broncos caps, The Chive for the KCCO shirts and the Denver Broncos for their great customer service, Jersey & seat upgrade!

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TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!  

But course, the BIGGEST THANKS goes to Army Sgt Lucas Oppelt, and his family, for his service & sacrifices!  

My dad flies home in the morning to get ready to make a WWII Warriors Wish come true at the World Series & prepare for next weeks games in Nashville, Indianapolis & Chicago.  Stay tuned for more details!  

MEET ARMY SGT LUCAS OPPELT

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Sgt. Lucas Oppelt is a airborne combat line medic with the 82nd Airborne out of Fort Bragg North Carolina. He was injured in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan May 26, 2012 while on a dismounted foot patrol with his company. Lucas stepped on a pressure plate IED(Improvised Explosive Device), detonating it and suffered a traumatic right leg amputation below the knee. He also sustained serious injuries to his left leg and minor injuries to both arms. This was Lucas’ second deployment, with a 15 month tour in Iraq 2006-2007 with 3-4 Cavalry out of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, 25th ID.

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Lucas is from Mishawaka, IN and attended Mishawaka High school. He met his wife, Amy while they were both serving in the Army. They have two children, Peyton and Lily. The family is residing at Walter Reed NMMC through the duration of Lucas’ inpatient and outpatient recovery. They are adjusting to their new life in Maryland.

SOURCE: http://lucasoppelt.org/

Lucas is currently a full-time college student pursuing his Bachelors in Engineering. He is an avid hunter, fly fisherman, and archer. He loves sports, especially football.  He was nominated by his wife to go to the Broncos game.  She Said he He is a dedicated fan that never misses either team’s games.  It was a true honor to have the opportunity to host this inspirational young man.  We hope he had an experience with his son that he will never forget!

2016 ALL32IN17 Schedule

Facebook “Operation Warrior Wishes”

Twitter “@WarriorWishes”

Instagram “@WarriorWishes

www.WarriorWishes.org

Contact Craig for more information about the mission (630) 339-6714

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Game 1 – Kicking Things Off Making Mile High Memories In Denver!

Over the next 4 months, my dad will travel more than 30,000 miles to host and honor military heroes at all 32 NFL stadiums in one season.  In fact, he has 44 games on the schedule & will do just about anything to put a smile on a warriors face.

2016 ALL32IN17 Schedule

MEET THE WARRIORS

MARINE CPL GAME MARTINEZ 

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Corporal Gabriel Martinez and his wife, Kayla, were married only three months before Gabe was deployed to Afghanistan with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion (CEB) in October 2010. Just one month later, on Thanksgiving Day, Gabe called Kayla with the devastating news that he had been injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) blast and medevaced out with one of his best friends. Both men lost their legs.Gabe and Kayla Martinez

The Semper Fi Fund supported Gabe’s family while they were with Gabe in the hospital in Bethesda, MD so that they could remain by his side when he needed them most without added financial pressure. The Semper Fi Fund
also helped Gabe and Kayla move their belongings to their new home in California and provided additional assistance to Gabe’s family, allowing them to visit him when he left the hospital without having to worry about financial repercussions. Gabe was even able to purchase specialized athletic equipment and an adaptive truck, thanks to the assistance of the Semper Fi Fund.

Despite the loss of his legs, Gabe continues to be an extremely positive young man, always in a good mood and wearing a smile! In no time at all, Gabe learned to walk again on his new legs and has since been very busy rock climbing, skiing, biking and handcycling. He is also an active member of Team Semper Fi.Gabriel Martinez on hand cycle

However, Gabe does still face certain difficulties of walking on prosthetic legs. For example, he sometimes has trouble bending down to pick things up. In 2011, to help him in his daily life, Gabe received a service dog that he named Wonka. Wonka can pick things up for Gabe and open doors when Gabe is in his wheelchair. Wonka can even fetch a drink from the refrigerator! In early 2012, Wonka became ill due to something that he had ingested. The Semper Fi Fund’s Tim and Sandy Day Canine Companion Program took care of veterinary expenses, as well as necessities for Wonka, such as dog food. Wonka quickly returned to health and went back to assisting Gabe, who says he “feels blessed” to have a friend like Wonka in his life.

While heroically standing by Gabe’s side and helping him during recovery, Kayla also managed to accomplish milestones of her own. In May 2011, Kayla received her bachelor’s degree. She is also very active at the hospital helping other young wives of injured service members deal with the new challenges they face. She wants to make sure they know they’re not alone.

On October 30, 2012, Gabe and Kayla celebrated the birth of their first child – their beautiful daughter, Madelynn Grace Martinez.

Gabe is an inspiration to us all. He says his favorite quote is, “Tough times don’t last, but tough Marines do.” In the case of this Marine, that is surely a fact.

Source: https://semperfifund.org/hero-stories/hero-story-corporal-gabriel-martinez-usmc/

MARINE CPL JERRY BROESCH

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Cpl. Broesch enlisted in the Marine Corps when he was 17. As soon as he turned 18 and graduated from High School he went to boot camp. He spent 4 years on active duty as an 351, Antitank Assault Man, in places like Okinawa and almost 2 years in Rota, Spain. Once his enlistment was up he returned to Idaho, to be recalled for Desert Storm, for a very brief time. He came back to Idaho, went to the University of Idaho and earned his B.S. in Environmental Science while caring for a wife and young daughter. He worked as an Environmental Specialist with the County and served on the State Hazmat Team. In 2002 he joined the Idaho National Guard because he still had a strong desire to serve his country. In 2004 he deployed to Kirkuk, Iraq with the HHC 116th Engr. Bn. as a 74D. While going out on a mission on Oct 26, 2005 he was in HMMVEE accident during which he suffered among other things a broken neck and back. After he returned home and got back on the mend he decided to volunteer to go to Iraq with another unit out of California that needed some help. So in 2007 he left again for Iraq this time as a 11B January 23, 2008 he was on a mission and blew out his knee and re-injured his neck and back. This was the final straw for his body. He underwent back surgery, neck surgery, wrist surgery, knee surgery, he suffered a TBI and bi-lateral hearing loss. He has spent the last 8 years in physical therapy. He was medically retired in April 2014 with almost 19 years of service spanning 4 decades.

In 2011 Jerry and his family were honored when they were chosen as the Army Family of the Year and the Military Family of the year by the National Military Family Association. This was the first time a National Guard Family has ever been recognized.

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Jerry lives in North Idaho where he was born and raised. He and his wife have been together for 26 years. They have a 13 year old daughter. They have a 21 year old daughter who is married and has their 2 year old grandson. Jerry loves spending time with his family, fishing and camping.

Some of his awards include: Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Over Seas Ribbon w/1 star, Letter of Appreciation (3rd award), Meritorious Mast (2nd award), National Defense Service Medal (2nd award), Armed Forces Reserve Medal w/M device, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal w/Campaign Star, Army Service Ribbon, USN Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

Don’t forget to nominate your hero for an upcoming game on our 2016 “All32in17” Mission!

Facebook “Operation Warrior Wishes”

Twitter “@WarriorWishes”

Instagram “@WarriorWishes

www.WarriorWishes.org

Contact Craig for more information about the mission (630) 339-6714

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Warrior Wishes Come True At Superbowl 50!

After traveling over 30,000 miles and hosting more than 150 Warriors at 43 NFL games in 4 months, it was time to make warrior wishes come true at Super Bowl 50!  

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My dad spent all week in San Francisco making warrior wishes come true at events all over the city, leading up to the big game. I was able to honor heroes at some of those events the last few days.

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Throughout the week it was an honor to host over 20 Warriors at 11 different Super Bowl events. Now it is showtime …Super Bowl Sunday!  Our final game of the 2015 season honoring Army Sgt Joel Tavera, his dad (served 25 years in both Marines and Army) and Army MSgt Cedric King.

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This Super Bowl Sunday was one of our biggest logistical challenges – although we had flown Cedric in earlier in the week, Sgt Tavera and his dad couldn’t get a flight until Sunday AM arriving at 12:30 for a 3:30 kickoff 45 minutes away.

Everything had to be perfect – the flight had to be on time, we needed an uber driver nearby & most of all, little to no traffic.  

My dad went to airport at 7am to trace all steps necessary to make sure everything went perfect . He made arrangements to have bags stored at airport til after the game, called police to get special parking spot for Uber to pick us up , made arrangements for late checkin at hotel, etc. That effort paid off – thanks to a little help from Me back home.  For this of you who have been following us for a while, you know my dad isn’t very tech savvy.  So I had to get him an uber because he was clueless to how it worked…

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Thankfully the flight landed right on time.  My dad Met Sgt Tavera at the baggage claim & took his bags 50 feet to storage, walked another 50 feet to the Uber waiting for them right outside, and we were off . Surprisingly traffic was not bad cuz officials urged everyone to take public transportation and most did.

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My dad got to know Joel & his dad on the 45 minute drive from San Francisco to Santa Clara.  (You can see Joel’s Bio below.). 

They arrived at Levi Stadium with time to spare.  My dad walked them as close to the stadium as he could to take a few pictures before they headed inside to watch their Carolina Panthers take on the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50!  

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Our plan worked perfectly!  Now that they were inside enjoying themselves, My dad made his way down the street to watch the game at a local hotel.  

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Cedric had arrived to the stadium much earlier and was already inside enjoying the Super Bowl atmosphere.  Excitement was all around – clearly Broncos fans outnumbered Panthers fans 3 to 1, but the Warriors were all rooting for Panthers, so we were too. It didn’t look good early, as Carolina fell behind 10-0 early, but were able to hang around most of the game even though they never were able to take the lead – this was ironic as they rarely trailed the entire season.

At halftime Cedric made his way through the crowd to meet up with Joel & his dad.  He said it wasn’t easy, but he was able to send us we a great photo of them together laughing it up and having a good time while enjoying the Super Bowl .

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Unfortunately for them, the Panthers could never quite get going and a late 4th qtr fumble and a Broncos touchdown pretty much sealed their fate.  The Denver Broncos went on to win Super Bowl 50 By the score of 24-10.

Although disappointed, Sgt Tavera , his dad and MSgt King all had a great time and wished the Broncos congratulations- and who would have expected anything less from some true American heroes!!!

After the game the Tusca Restaurant, in the Hyatt hotel nearby, hosted everyone for a post game meal before heading back to the airport to pick up their luggage and check into the hotel.

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Operation Warrior Wishes would like to extend a huge THANK YOU to our friends at ESPN for helping us secure tickets to the Big Game, Tusca For providing the post game meal,  Staybridge Suites in San Bruno for providing accommodations for SGT Tavera  and his dad, our friend Lou for letting us stay all week and helping us get around town.  most importantly we want to thank SGT Tavera, his father & MSGT King for your service, sacrifices & your inspirational never give up attitudes!  It’s a true honor to call you friends.  

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We also want to thank everyone who helped us make this Super Bowl Week Special for all the Warriors & everyone who helped make our entire 2015 season a huge success!  We were able to make Warrior Wishes come true at 44 NFL games this year!  We could have never made it all possible without all the support!  

My dad will be taking a few weeks off to catch up with the family & to set up our spring “Battlefields to Ballfields” mission.  Stay tuned for the schedule & don’t forget to nominate your hero!  

2015 All32in17 MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Meet the Warriors

Army SGT Joel Tavera

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Army SGT Joel Tavera followed in his dad’s footsteps and joined the military.

On March 12th 2008, while serving in Iraq, Joel was riding in an SUV with four other soldiers when he felt a sense of fear like none he’d ever experienced. He opened his back door right before the rocket landed on the vehicle. Three of the other soldiers died in the blast. He thinks that open door saved his life.

His last memories of sight: light, blue sky, the sun and the face of Capt. Kevin Lombardo, who came to his rescue.
Lombardo kept Tavera alert as he put on a tourniquet by talking about family, baseball and a tattoo on Tavera’s right arm: “Hebrews 4:12,” under a cross, signifying two blades. It’s one of his favorite verses.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

The blast stole four fingers on Army Sgt. Joel Tavera’s left hand, destroyed his right leg, caused brain trauma, burned more than 60 percent of his body and left him blind, but It didn’t take his life.

Tavera isn’t sure how he lived, how he pulled through 81 days in a coma or 60 plus surgeries that patched him together. He leans on God’s word and figures the Lord must have plans for him.

“Not every soldier is like that,” he said. “Some choose to give up, but … my life is not over with.”

Joel says “Who I was then did die, but the new Tavera is, in many ways, better.” And, he believes, blessed.

Tavera received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his service, but he barely talked those first two years and got around in a wheelchair. These days, he’s making up for it. He is asked to speak at events often. He writes poetry and is working on a book. He wrote an inspirational song, Just to Be With You, soon after he learned that he was blind.

Being blind is a challenge he embraces.
“I see people for who they really are,” he said. “There’s no going back. If there were, I don’t know if I would.”

We are honored to be hosting Army SGT Joel Tavera & his dad, who also served our country for over 25 years, at the Super Bowl to cheer on their favorite team.

 

Meet Army Master SGT Cedric King

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On July 25th 2012 Cedric was serving in Afghanistan. At the time he was a platoon Sargent & As usual, he received the coordinates of where to go, just like every day, setting out 10-15 minutes later and getting fired upon, which was nothing new. The only thing different on that particular day was that this was a new sector.

Cedric’s team happened to be covering for another platoon. They were bringing a group of guys to cover when Cedric’s right foot stepped on an IED.
He didn’t know what had happened. In fact, he thought at first that he had just been blown back by the blast. The men around him were hurt too, but Cedric received the majority of the injuries, although at the time, he didn’t realize it.

He said, “I was really upset that I didn’t get a chance to finish getting the guys who were shooting at us,” but he said that wore off soon and started gasping for air. He looked at his body and quickly realized that it was mangled. Soon, the helicopter arrived to take Cedric and the other injured men to the closest base, Kandahar. Cedric said that once at the army base, he had no recollection of anything until he woke up a week later on August 1 at Walter Reed.

Cedric lost both of his legs above the knee in the blast. He credits his Family and faith for motivating him to always push his limits and never give up. “These two elements helped me when I didn’t want to get up. Faith helps me believe in a brighter future. Faith keeps me going—this didn’t happen for nothing. I believe in a higher power who loves me enough to say, I’m not doing this to hurt you, I’m doing this to help you.’”

His family, which includes his wife and children, is there for him constantly. Cedric says, “There are people around me who love me, not because I had legs, not because I was strong, not because I could pick up my kids. They love me for the part of me that you can’t see. They love me for what’s on the inside. That’s the part of you they can’t smell, they can’t see.”
Cedric wants to live life the way that He did before or better, as if nothing ever happened. “I’ve got every excuse to say ‘Its too much,’ but I won’t. To me, it’s not awe-inspiring like it is to everyone else. To me, it’s a frame of mind that separates me between now and who I used to be. The injury is big in other people’s eyes. To me, it’s not that big of a deal (any more). It’s a shift in consciousness. The reason why this happened was to make me better…to make me stronger…to expose my best part in me. By not complaining, it makes it better.”

If that doesn’t inspire you, this will. MSgt Cedric King lets nothing stand in his way! On November 2nd, 2014, Cedric set his sights on crossing the finish line at the New York City Marathon. During the grueling 26 mile trek, one of Cedric’s prosthetic legs broke. He lost invaluable time as he waited to get it fixed.

King knelt down and prayed. He put one foot in front of the other & never looked back. After all the crowds had gone home & clean up crews were sweeping the streets, Cedric King crossed the finish line 10 hours after starting the race.

So what if he was one of the last people to cross the finish line? He did it, he displayed strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril, and the willingness to stand up and fight no matter what the cost.

Master Sgt Cedric King recently retired from the army and moved out of Walter Reed back to North Carolina with his family. Cedric is a huge Panthers fan! He is a motivational speaker, a mentor and a true inspiration.

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Warrior Wishes Come True At Superbowl 50 Opening Night!

My dad spent months planning to make warrior wishes come true in San Francisco during Super Bowl week.  He was able to set up events to host heroes almost every day of the week leading up to the big game. 

In past years what is formerly known as “Media Day” was always on Tuesday.  So I booked my dads flight for less than $100 round trip leaving Tuesday morning in order to get him in town before media day began.  The only problem was that they changed “Media Day” to “Superbowl Opening Night” this year & they changed it to Monday instead of Tuesday. 

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But that didn’t stop us from making warrior wishes come true!  Thanks to the NFL & the SAP center, we were able to send Army SPC Alex Vega, Navy Warrior Sal Duenas, Army SGT Christian Valle & their families to Super Bowl Opening Night on Monday. 

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The Warriors got to watch & listen live as media outlets from all over the world asked Broncos & Panthers players questions.  It was a great way to kickoff the week!

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My Dad will be flying in first thing Tuesday morning & will be making Warrior Wishes come true all week long!

MEET THE WARRIORS

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Alex served from 2001-2004.  He served on a peace keeping mission in kosovo in 2002 & then on a deployment to Iraq in 2003.  He now works full time & enjoys spending time with his family.

ARMY SGT CHRISTIAN VALLE

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On Oct. 23, 2005 Army SGT Cristian Valle was on patrol performing a vehicle checkpoint in Balad, Iraq when a mortar round with a grenade attached was thrown out the window of a passing vehicle. The grenade exploded a few feet away from SGT Valle, tossing him into the air. He lost one of his legs immediately and the other was so severely damaged it was eventually amputated. He also sustained a pelvic fracture, burns and significant blood loss.

After SGT Valle was tossed into the air and landed on the ground, through the dust and smoke, the first thing that caught his eye was his wedding ring and he says that is what pulled him through. He spent 13 months at Walter Reed, where he had multiple leg cleaning surgeries and months of physical therapy. Today he is continuously adjusting to his condition.  

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Game 43 – Warrior Wishes Come True at the AFC Championship Game!

Not many people can say that their first NFL game ever is a thrilling AFC Championship game in which your favorite team wins and goes to the Super Bowl.  However, Operation Warrior Wishes is extremely proud to have provided that very experience for 82nd Airborne Army SFC Nicholas Dighans and his wife, Holli. 

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We started this experience on Thursday Night when we surprised this 14 year, 5 deployment wounded veteran -with the help of Holli & his favorite restaurant, Outback Steakhouse.

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We set up a dinner with their friends in their hometown  Bozeman, Montana. At dinner, Nick got a phone call from “a radio station” (us) to win free dinner.  Not only did he win dinner but when told he was going to Broncos game Sunday, replied “Is this a joke ?”

Well it was no joke.  Saturday morning SFC Dighans & his wife made the 8 hour drive to Denver & got a good night sleep, thanks to our friends at the luxurious Westin Westminster hotel, before their big day.

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I was able to score $19 airfare from Chicago to Denver 3 weeks ago with the hopes that Denver would make it to the AFC Championship game.  And thankfully they did.  So for less than $20 my dad flew to Denver Saturday nightto make SFC Dighans warrior wish come true.  

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Of course, he slept at the airport upon arrival in Denver to rest up for the day. Sunday morning, my dad met up with SFC Dighans for a delicious brunch thanks to  Elways restaurant. 

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From there they headed to Sports Authority Field aka “Mile High” to tailgate before watching the Broncos & Patriots face off for a conference championship & a trip to San Francisco to play in the Super Bowl!  

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Not many people gave the Broncos a chance against Tom Brady & the Pats.  The Patriots were the clear favorite and the aging Peyton Manning had clearly lost a step over the years.  But in the NFL anything can happen on any given Sunday.

As SFC Dighans & his wife made their way in the stadium, my dad made friends with tailgaters in the parking lot to watch the game. 

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The battle between Manning & Brady was underway.  Manning & the Broncos controlled the game.  The Broncos Defense kept Brady in check much of the game.  

The Broncos were up by 8 late in the 4th quarter.  Brady connected with Gronkowski on a 4th & long to keep their season alive.  Just a few plays later connected with him again, this time in the end zone!  Down 2, because of an early missed extra point, the Pats were forced into going for a dramatic 2 point conversion attempt.  

Brady took the snap & fired a pass over the middle to Edelman.  The ball was tipped into the air & intercepted!  Mile High stadium erupted into cheers and was literally rocking!  SFC Dighans & Broncos fans worldwide celebrated the victory as their team was headed to Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco!!! 

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After the game my dad met back up with Nick & his wife outside the stadium by the players tunnel to celebrate the victory with the team.  Von Miller ran out & high fived all the fans!  

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The Dighans thanked us for the once in a lifetime experience & made their way back to the hotel.  My dad made his way back to the airport.  He had to catch a 7am flight to Dallas, that I booked for $36, to make warrior wishes come true at Monday nights Dallas Stars game!

We would like to thank The Westin Westminster hotel for providing SFC Dighans with luxurious accommodations, Elway’s Downtown for providing a delicious lunch before the game, Outback Steakhouse for helping us surprise Nick with this opportunity & New Era Cap for providing Broncos caps!  Most importantly, thanks to SFC Dighans for your service & sacrifices to our country! 

TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!

Next stop Super Bowl 50!!!

SFC NICHOLAS DIGHANS

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SFC (Ret.) Nick Dighans from Belgrade, Montana served in the U.S Army for 14.5 years before being medically retired. He left for basic training right after graduating high school to follow in his father’s footsteps of serving our country. During his time in service he completed 5 combat tours ( 3 to Iraq, 2 to Afghanistan) & earned numerous awards including 2 bronze stars. He always believed that he would do a full 20 year + career in the army because that is where he belonged but unfortunately his numerous combat tours took their toll resulting in his early medical retirement. He now lives in Bozeman, Montana with his wife and two daughters spending his time fly fishing and enjoying his family.

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Game 10 – Warrior Wishes Come True In Denver!

After making Warrior Wishes come true in Pittsburgh on Thursday night, my dad flew home to Chicago for just a few hours before heading back to the airport and takinging off to Denver to make Warrior Wishes come true in the Mile High City!

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Over the past 3 years we have made some amazing memories making Warrior Wishes come true at Broncos games.

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Today we were honored to host Marine SSGT Randy Hulse, Army SGT Franz Walkup & Army SGT Jason Watkins at the 10th game of our 2015 “All32in17” mission to honor military warriors at all 32 NFL stadiums in 1 season for our 4th straight year! (Read the warrior’s Bios below)

My dad got a good night sleep at the Denver airport while the Warriors got a great night sleep thanks to our friends at the Westin Downtown Denver.  The luxurious Westin Was Located just one mile from Sports Authority Field at Mile High, & in the heart of the action on the famous 16th Street Mall in the core of downtown.

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The guys met up before the game for a delicious lunch thanks to Elway’s restaurant.  Located in the heart the Mile High City, Elway’s Downtown was the perfect place to have lunch before a Broncos game.  There was John Elway’s memorabilia throughout the restaurant & plenty of tv’s to watch the early games.  Their menu boasts USDA Prime, hand-cut steaks, Colorado Lamb, raw bar selections with fin fish, crustaceans and much more.

After lunch the Warriors got a big surprise from the Denver fire department & were escorted to the game on a fire truck!

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This was each of the Warriors first Broncos game ever!  Unfortunately tickets for the Broncos game were extremely expensive, so the seats were not the best, but there really isn’t a bad seat in the stadium.  Plus When you sit in the upper deck of Mile High stadium you can literally feel the ground shake beneath your feet.  It’s an awesome experience!

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The Broncos were able to hold off the surging Vikings and won the game by the score of 23-20.

We would like to thank Westin Denver Downtown for providing accommodations, Elway’s for providing a delicious meal before the game, the Denver fire department for providing transportation to & from the game & New Era for providing Broncos caps to all the warriors.  Most importantly we want to thank these brave warriors for their service & sacrifices!

My dad is headed back to the airport to sleep for his 2nd straight night and will be catching an early morning flight to Seattle to make warrior wishes come true at the Monday Night Seahawks game for the 11th game of our 2015 Mission to honor warriors at all 32 NFL stadiums in 1 season for our 4th year in a row.

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TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!

MEET THE WARRIORS

Marine SSGT Randy Hulse

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Randy was nominated to us by friends of his from Indianapolis.  So when my dad was in Indy making warrior wishes come true 2 weeks ago, he surprised Randy with the opportunity to see his first ever Broncos game!  Randy was almost in tears when he learned he was nominated for the game & his warrior Wish was going to come true!

Randy’s story begins when he graduated high school in 1983. He turned down a football scholarship to Nebraska in order to join the military and serve his country. It was his dream to be a Marine. Randy served 14 years in the Marine Corp before leaving the service to focus on his family. After the attacks of 9-11, Randy was pulled between a six figure manager position and re-enlisting. He gave up the manager position and joined the Army to live his dream of becoming a combat medic. At the age of 42, he accomplished that goal and planned to make the military his career. Unfortunately, a severe injury made him hang up his boots for good.

18 years of military service, and 7 deployments later, Randy still wanted to help people. While being processed out of the Army in Knoxville he became an EMT and drove an ambulance for several years. Then he moved to Colorado (a huge Broncos fan) and worked as a civilian driving the ambulance for an Army hospital.

Army SGT Franz Walkup

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Franz Walkup’s brother, Army 1st LT Frank B Walkup IV, made the ultimate sacrifice in June of 2007 while serving in Iraq. After his older brother passed, Franz was inspired to join the military.

On September 29th, While deployed in Afghanistan, Franz was shot 5 times by Afghan National Army soldiers that turned on US forces.

Sgt Walkup spent time recovering at Walter Reed Military Hospital in Bethesda, MD. He has endured over 7o surgeries and had to have one of his legs ampitated.  Franz works hard every day to heal and won’t stop until he is able to walk again.

Sgt Walkup wants to to lead, inspire and train other soldiers.  He has never given up and continues to strive for the future with his wife and two dogs. After being turned down by many home-building organizations and being told he’s not wounded enough, Franz was finally approved by the VA for an adaptive grant of nearly $70,000 to help build the adaptive home so his wheelchair can easily move around.

Walkup also raised money through fundraisers and other organizations that assist wounded warriors.  nearly two dozen non-profits and businesses are making his adaptive home become a reality. The Gary Sinise Foundation, through its Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment program, has taken the lead.  Franz was recenly on Ellen sharing his inspiring story and road to recovery. He is an inspiration.  His never give up attitude is contagious and we were honored to host him at his first ever Denver Broncos game!

Army Medevac Pilot Jason Watkins

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Jason has proudly served our country in the Army for the past 12 years.  He has Deployed 3 times, twice to Iraq, once to Afghanistan.  In 2004 Watkins Graduated from Air Assault school & continued his education attending flight school in 2010.  Jason is currently stationed at Fort Riley and now Fort Carson as a Blackhawk pilot.

2 years ago, Operation Warrior Wishes mailed care packages to warriors serving in Afghanistan.  Jason was one of those warriors.  In the care package was an invitation to join us to a game & Jason took us up on our offer before he heads out on his next deployment.

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It was an honor to host Jason, Franz & Randy and show them that their service and sacrifices are appreciated and have not gone unnoticed!

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